In his latest Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has committed to making Transport for the North a statutory body with £30m of funding over the next three years.
TfN was set up by the Government in October 2014 as a partnership between the Northern city region authorities, Government and the national transport agencies.
The broad TfN remit covers east-west rail links, roads, ports and airports as well as broadband, devolved powers, smart ticketing and how this inter-connectivity would work with and complement the UK’s other regions and HS2.
A Northern Transport Strategy was jointly published by the Government and TfN earlier this year.
In the first fully-Conservative Budget since 1996, the Government said it was committing to:
- Devolving “far reaching powers over transport to the North’s Mayor-led city regions to deliver fully integrated public transport systems, supported by smart and integrated ticketing technology”
- establishing TfN as a statutory body with “statutory duties to set out its transport policies and investment priorities in a long‑term transport strategy for the North, underpinned by £30m of additional funding over three years to support TfN’s running costs and enable them to advance their work programme”
- appointing an interim chief executive and executive team for TfN by autumn 2015 to accelerate TfN’s work programme, and appointing a chairman by the end of the 2015, with an update on the Northern Transport Strategy to be published by Budget 2016
- working with TfN to advance the introduction of Oyster-style smart and integrated ticketing across bus, tram, metro and rail services throughout the region, “making this one of the top priorities for TfN’s newly accelerated work programme”
- working with TfN to “push forward plans to transform east-west rail and road connections via TransNorth and options for a new TransPennine Tunnel, with a prioritised list of scheme options to be produced by Budget 2016, and an interim report in time for the Spending Review later in 2015”
Alongside announcing funding for TfN, the Chancellor also announced £14m towards local road maintenance improvements, including £3m for Tameside Council to make structural improvements to walls around local roads and £5.8m for the A666 Highways Maintenance Scheme in Bolton.
The Government’s commitment to improving transport in the North comes weeks after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the electrification of the Transpennine train route between Manchester and Leeds was to be postponed, as part of a raft of changes to railway operator Network Rail.